A Las Vegas investor who owes $2.2 billion to a Nevada company was arrested Friday in Montana, just outside Yellowstone National Park, after a federal bankruptcy court judge issued a bench warrant for contempt of court.
Raymond Ngan, 47, was arrested at the Super 8 Motel in Gardiner, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Tim Hornung said Monday. The U.S. Marshals Service's office in Montana received a tip that Ngan was staying at the motel, Hornung said, and deputies were sent into the park and to the Super 8 to search for him.
"From what we understood from the source, he was visiting the park," Hornung said.
Ngan received the contempt order in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas on June 20 after he failed to appear for three separate court hearings in his case, according to court documents. He first filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 31, 2017, court records show, four months after a Nevada court ruled that he owed more than $2.2 billion to First 100 LLC.
The Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported at the time that the judgment against Ngan shattered the state's previous record for a single civil case, which had stood at $524 million since 2013.
According to the Sun, Ngan claims to be a child refugee from a Cambodian concentration camp who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at age 14, then amassed “billions of dollars managing funds for foreign governments in the Middle East and helping found a major retail business in Asia.”
The multibillion-dollar judgment was a result of Ngan’s continued failures to respond to the company’s lawsuit, resulting in the company’s requested default judgment being granted in the court’s order, the Sun reported. The company argued that the profits from Ngan’s promised investment of $100 million — which never materialized — in addition to attorney’s fees and interest justified the company’s request for $2.2 billion in damages.
The judgment against Ngan states that in addition to the 10-figure award, he is also on the hook for 5.5 percent interest — or $333,170 per day.
Ngan’s financial misadventures took another twist Monday afternoon, when he made his initial appearance before Judge Timothy Cavan in U.S. District Court in Billings.
Ngan told the court he’d been unaware of several recent orders to appear in bankruptcy court. He had been traveling the country, looking for properties for his clients to purchase after he was evicted from his apartment in February, he told Cavan. Those investors had been providing him stipends to fund his travels, he said.
“I didn’t know about those court hearings,” Ngan said. “If I did I would be there.”
Ryan Andersen, a Las Vegas-based attorney for First 100, objected to that account, noting that the company had spent “a lot of time and money” hiring private detectives to track Ngan’s whereabouts and serve him with court orders.
The firm’s investigators have tracked Ngan’s activity in Las Vegas, where he has been residing with a friend more recently than when he claimed he left the city, Andersen said.
Andersen urged Cavan not to release Ngan, asking that he instead be transferred to custody of the U.S. Marshals in Las Vegas until his next bankruptcy court hearing. He cited the debtor’s extensive history of failures to appear in court, and said the company expects he will simply disappear again once he is released.
Ngan had cited confidentiality agreements on the one occasion in which he was interviewed by the company’s legal team, Andersen said, but failed to produce those agreements or appear at subsequent hearings.
“If we don’t have a chance to talk to him, we will never collect” on the company’s debt, Andersen said.
Cavan, however, said the statute allowing a civil bench warrant to be issued for a debtor’s arrest does not allow him to keep Ngan in custody.
“I can’t find anywhere in this rule where it gives me the authority to detain Mr. Ngan,” Cavan told Andersen.
Both the corporate attorney and the judge acknowledged the bizarre legal situation as they wrangled with the limits of the law.
“This may be the only proceeding like this that takes place in the federal courts this year,” Andersen said.
“This is the only one we’ve ever seen,” Cavan responded.
Ultimately, Cavan ordered Ngen to be released on the condition that he appear in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas for a Thursday hearing.
Andersen declined to comment on the judge’s order.